I didn’t know what I was doing the rest of my weekend but I wanted to at least squeeze in one last round while I was away from home! I dropped my friend off near the I-81 and I-26 interchange and headed up the road a few miles to Clear Creek. I had reviewed the course’s website before my trip and was intrigued with the pictures they had posted. From what I found it looked like Clear Creek had some potential!
It was late on a Friday when I got there and I had no trouble getting out as a single. As an added benefit, I was able to use my VSGA card and played for only $20! I teed off at 4pm and had the course to myself, finishing in about 3 hours. I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again, but I sure love golfing on a weekday!
If you are looking to play in Southwest Virginia (near the border) then Clear Creek is probably going to be one of your best options when it comes to public courses. There aren’t a lot of choices in the area so it is nice to see Clear Creek available to the Bristol golfers.
The course is a short drive from the interstate and located in a small community, near Clear Creek Lake. The lake comes into play on a handful of holes including the par 3 8th, the signature hole with a green that sits partway into the lake! In my opinion the lake isn’t the course’s dominate feature, all the elevation change is! The front nine is on one side of the lake and it is what I would consider a good routing even though homes and passing cars can be seen on most of the holes. The front is my favorite nine! The homes are set back from play and the main challenge is going to be semi blind shots and forced carries.
The 6th and the 8th are par 3’s on the front and are my favorite holes on the course. The 6th has a large green that is guarded by a creek short and left. You cannot see the creek from the tee and need to make sure to miss to the right. I mentioned the 8th already with its green that sits into the lake. If you want to get at the right half of the green then you are going to have to risk losing a ball if your yardage is off!
The back nine is really where the course starts to show its teeth. You drive across the earthen dam that is creating the lake to get to the 10th tee. Once there you will need to bring your best target golf game until you get to the 18th tee. The back nine plays up into the tree-lined hills and is as narrow as you’d ever like to see a golf course! The back is a little goofy with narrow fairways and lots of slope. I’d suggest doing whatever you can to find your golf ball! I didn’t hit my driver on the back nine and somehow managed to navigate my way around with two bogies and birdie. It was one of the best nines, when it comes to shotmaking, that I’ve had in years!
Like the front nine, the par 3’s on the back are the best holes. The 13th, at 142 yards, is the shortest hole on the course and it’s ranked as the easiest hole. It plays at least a club downhill to a green that is tucked into a hillside, over a marshy ravine. The green slopes severely from back to front and I ended up with an almost impossible downhill chip after missing it over the back. I always like ending on a par 3 and the 18th plays towards the earthen dam holding back all that water!
It is hard to review Clear Creek without mentioning the loony par 4 17th! It is only 347 yards and plays significantly less than that as it downhill, but it is as terrifying as can be! The tees are up where the transmission lines run through area and the fairway cannot be seen from the back tees. I had to walk up past the white tees before I could see the fairway! It probably drops a couple hundred feet down to the fairway and you need to make sure that you carry it to the fairway, but don’t run through it. I hit my 200 yard club and had just a wedge into the green. The green is surrounded by a small pond and a creek so it wasn’t an easy wedge shot.
Like the conditions at the other Virginia course that I played on the trip, the conditions here at Clear Creek were typical of a Mid-Atlantic course in the summer. Oddly the conditions varied quite a bit between the front and back nine. The front was lush and full while the back had plenty of areas that were struggling to grow grass. I’m assuming the back nine doesn’t get as much light since it is in a hillside and that the less light has something to do with the grass not growing as well. The tees were full and the greens were nice, rolling at a medium pace. Beware of the sloped tee boxes on the back nine. I am a fade player and the 10th and 11th tee boxes are sloped with the hill from left to right which exaggerated my normal flight.
Clear Creek was one of those courses that stressed me out, even though my game has been turning around. I played the Blue tees which are 70.2/130/6314 (par 71) and the only way I can understand the rating and slope being so low is due to the flatter greens! The par 3’s are excellent and so is the scenery, but it is a very involved course to play. If you play here, bring some extra golf balls!
#1 (363 yard par 4):
#2 (390 yard par 4):
#3 (398 yard par 4):
#4 (307 yard par 4):
#5 (522 yard par 5):
#6 (175 yard par 3):
#7 (402 yard par 4):
#8 (165 yard par 3):
#9 (565 yard par 5):
#10 (405 yard par 4):
#11 (330 yard par 4):
#12 (345 yard par 4):
#13 (142 yard par 3):
#14 (396 yard par 4):
#15 (514 yard par 5):
#16 (384 yard par 4):
#17 (347 yard par 4):
#18 (164 yard par 3):